Workflow Experiment – Part 1: Getting Ready

When taking on a colossal effort such as this Workflow Experiment, it pays off immensely to do some preparation in order to save some time for you in the future.

Because I will end up doing 4 different Windows installations, there are a few things that I can do in order to save myself some time.

Backup Steam Games
The first thing on my list is to save myself the trouble of having to do a networked install of the three games that I will be using as benchmarks on the Windows installations.  Luckily, Steam provides an easy backup solution, so that you don’t have to download the game files every time you need to reformat your Windows partition:

Steam Game Backup

Steam Game Backup

This process takes a long time, as it creates DVD images of the compressed game files.  With over 12Gb of game data, I sat back and relaxed for a few minutes while the process took place.

After the backup was all said and done, I defragged my hard drive, and copied the game files to my content server for later retrieval.

Backup Common Files
If you have used the computer that you are going to do testing on, it’s important to backup your files, so that you don’t lose any data.  I have very few files to be backed up on my hard drive, since my content server acts as a one-stop-shop for the stuff that I work on.

In the experiment, I will be using my content server heavily in order to keep things on an even plain when working with common data.

Preparing The Installation Media
In order to further streamline the process of installing Windows 4 times, I will be using a copy of Windows XP that I have stripped of unnecessary components and slipstreamed with Service Pack 3.

I used a program called nLite to get the job done, and if you plan on doing many installs of Windows, or are just looking to make your yearly reformat go a bit smoother, I would recommend checking nLite out.

One of the best things you can do with a major undertaking is to plan accordingly.  I need to make sure that I have all of the resources that I need in order to get this going in a timely fashion.


  • 4 250Gb Hard Drives
  • PCI IDE card
  • Power cable splitters
  • 80-pin IDE cables


I think that just about covers all the stuff I will need.  Now that I have that all taken care of, let’s take a look at the plan for how the installs will go, one more time before I actually go through the work.

Here are the four experiment hard drives, which will all be clean installs:

  1. Hard Drive 1
    1. Ubuntu – I will install a new Windows virtual machine from the ground up, with the Adobe CS4 software and any relevant security software.  I will also make an attempt at installing Adobe CS4 through WINE and report back on the progress and give any tips I can on installing it.
  2. Hard Drive 2
    1. Windows XP (1) – This Windows installation will have 2 user accounts, one for gaming and one for general workflow.
  3. Hard Drive 3
    1. Windows XP (2) – This installation will be strictly for gaming.  There will be no other software installed, other than what is needed at the very basic level.  I will also strip services to the acceptable level to get the better performance I would like.
  4. Hard Drive 4
    1. Windows XP (3) – This installation will be strictly for the general workflow.  I will need to install the normal security tools, and any other tools I would need for graphic design/web development.

And because I would like to have a working system just in case something goes wrong, I will keep my 80Gb hard drive with Ubuntu that is currently running on my system.

That covers it for preparations, stay tuned for the next post:  Part 2: Installing the Hardware.